The Departed – an archetype for Unknown Armies

Logo RSP Karneval 250pxWith “From the Grave” as the headline for the October carnival of German RPG-bloggers, this one appears as a natural:

Mankind and by extension the universe have an unhealthy fixation with death.

The Occult Underground alone crawls self-proclaimed devotees of various stripes. To say nothing of all the manners of spells, rituals and things (as in creatures) dealing in and with it.

Society at large through the ages and across cultures is and was obsessed with it, avoiding, glorifying, reveling, worshiping death itself and the dead.

Thus giving birth (of all things) to the Departed.

An archetype so old and all-pervasive as to be practically unseen. Truly a member of the Invisible Clergy, if there ever was one.

Attributes: Held in loving or hateful memory, ever present, gone forever. The Departed is dead but still alive, caught in the paradox of exerting influence by no longer being able to do so.

Taboo: Memories are the domain of the Departed. Doing new things never done before (in life), meeting and getting to know new people weaken the connection to the archetype.
New things may happen to you (who knows what the dead are confronted with?), you may just not initiate them or react to them in an (for you) unprecedented fashion.
Siring or bearing children is a guaranteed way to sever the bond with the Departed.

Symbols: Skulls, bones, blood, grave earth, crosses, black clothes, All Saints’ Day, Y-cuts, gravestones, hearses, scythes, pyramids, candles, Day of the Dead, graveyards, metal gurneys, toe tags, tears, flowers, mass graves, pale skin, black ribbons, …
The sheer number of symbols associated with it underlines the age-old power accumulated and inherent in this distant archetype.

Masks: Osiris (Egyptian), Jesus (Christian), Baron Samedi (Voudoun), the Unknown Soldier (Modern), John Doe (Modern)

Suspected Avatars in History: Here it gets tricky and we see one of the reasons why this archetype is so fundamentally well hidden: Whom do we remember for being dead? – Instead of for what the were before they died? The Departed contests a lot of personages usually ascribed to other archetypes on the simple grounds that they passed away.
Anyway, Elvis is always a good bet.

1%-50%: With a successful Avatar: The Departed roll you can convincingly pass for dead for a scene, as long as you don’t actively betray your condition (no jumping around screaming “I am alive! I am alive!” while people still insist on mourning you, sorry).

51%-70%: Kindred Spirits. Avatars of the Departed have a close rapport with demons. After failing a roll When dealing with a demon (e.g. during possession) you are entitled to an immediate re-roll, this time using your Avatar: The Departed skill instead of the score usually applicable to that kind of roll.

71%-90%: The dead are notoriously hard to ki… make that put down. You gain a number of extra Wound Points equal to your Avatar: The Departed skill.

91%+: At this level, the paradox inherent in the archetype comes full circle. Being remembered for something, means you have (had?) to be something. The Departed may take up the mantle of a second archetype without losing his connection to the Departed. Because they are so intertwined, breaking taboo for either archetype affects both of them.


Unknown Armies and related names are the Intellectual Property of Greg Stolze and John Tynes and protected by Copyright. These items have been used unofficially and quoted exclusively as reference with no infringement on any associated rights intended and without implying endorsement by the copyright holder. Other contents of this articles are published under the following license:
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Unknown Armies und damit verbunde Namen sind Geistiges Eigentum von Greg Stolze und John Tynes und urheberrechtlich geschützt. Diese Elemente wurden inoffiziell und ausschließlich als Referenz zitiert ohne die Absicht damit verbundene Rechte anzufechten und ohne eine Billigung durch den Rechteinhaber zu implizieren. Andere Inhalte dieses Artikels werden unter folgender Lizenz veröffentlicht:
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